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Posts Tagged ‘Grocery shopping’

  1. Match Game

    March 20, 2015 by admin

    IMG_2925_2We’ve discussed price matching previously as an excellent means of shopping frugally.  If you get the Sunday paper, you can check circulars for product pricing on many items you may want.

    But we wanted to take a post to remind you of the ease and money saving opportunity of price matching to!

    Tip: Make sure you are familiar with each store policy on price matching.

    On a recent trip to Target, we were shopping for a single new filter for our sink water filter.  We were shocked to see that Target was charging $19.99 for one replacement filter!  Knowing that there had to be a better price, we searched online and located the filter on for $8.99.

    Our young cashier didn’t know if Target allowed us to price match to Amazon, but she called over a manager to assist.  We were directed to the courtesy desk where, after a super quick verification of the online price, we were checked out and on our way home.

    Tip2:  This is another great use of your smart phone.  Don’t hesitate to take a minute to check a price online.

    We celebrated a 50% savings by simply searching for a product on our phone prior to checking out of the store!  And now that we are more aware of Target’s policy, we will complete our price check research prior to some of our shopping trips to make the experience even smoother.

    Enjoy your savings!

  2. Healthful Eating

    March 13, 2015 by admin

    In a recent issue of New Scientist, we read an article about eating that echoed points we’ve made ourselves: if you want you and your family to eat healthy food, have healthy food around you.  Now our point is backed up by Science!

    NEw ScientistThe article, “Easy as Pie” summarized some research by pychologist Brian Wansink.  Dr. Wansink put a lot of study into what people do that helps them eat healthier meals. Even if we don’t always do these things ourselves, it all made perfect sense.

    Although we don’t obsess about portion sizes and such at our house, we do try to encourage healthy eating habits. Too much snacking and too big portions can really add up. Spoiler Alert! We’re not twenty any more, so those extra bits tend to stick with us a bit more easily than they did when we were young’uns.

    Some of the research really triggered our interests in psychology:

    • Plates.  We love our Fiesta plates.  But did you know which color plate you use might affect how much you put on it.  It depends on the food and the plate.  If you have high contrast between your plate color and the food, you’ll take less.  So use light colored plates for dark meals, and dark plates for light colored foods.  It will help resolve any issue with too large portions.
    • Where you serve from makes a difference too.  If you keep your dinner serving dishes on the side-boy or on the stove, you’ll take less than if you pass the food at the table.  Also, smaller serving spoons helps you take a smaller portion.  This could come in handy, if you have unexpected guests and need to stretch a meal.
    • The food that’s in sight is the food you’re more likely to eat- a point we’ve raised in past posts. So fruit on the table becomes a snack, chips stashed in the cupboard- maybe less so. Salad greens that are out at dinner are more likely to be eaten. Sugar on the counter is more likely to go into your coffee than sugar stored out of view.
    • If over pouring alcohol is a concern for you, consider buying taller, skinnier glassware.  Even pro bartenders over-pour when given short, wide glasses of the same volume as tall skinny ones.  The bartenders will do this even after you point out their over pouring.  So if you want to keep the drinks light, use taller glasses.

    These little tips won’t instantly turn us all into svelte gods and goddesses, but paying some attention to where and how food is served and stored in your home might help you stick to whatever healthy eating goals you want to reach.

  3. Cheeze Please!

    January 21, 2015 by admin

    img_0004_thumb TRMom made a conscious choice to move from a vegetarian diet to a vegan diet.  A vegetarian since her early teen years, there came a point when not eating meat was more of a habit than a decision given much thought.  But her move to veganism was a researched effort towards better health and animal welfare.

    The problem was that TRMom LOVED cheese.  Gouda and a very sharp aged cheddar were among her favorites.  Pizza dripping with cheese and simple cheese & crackers were often repeated meals or snacks.  There wasn’t much that didn’t benefit from a topping of cheese, in TRMom’s opinion.

    Why bother embracing veganism when you love cheese?

    Well, there is a lot of debate about the health benefits of a diet that includes dairy products.  And TRMom has always had a complicated relationship with dairy.  She can’t drink milk or eat certain things like frozen custard without dire tummy reactions.  But giving up cheese was less about health and more about animal rights.  It just felt like the right thing to do.

    And bonus!  We found some fantastic vegan cheese products.IMG_9576

    The current TR household favorites are Daiya shreds (the cheddar are Bluey’s fav) and Teese Cheddar Cheese sauce.  Daiya is great to top a pizza, on tacos or to add to a vegan burger.  Teese is a fantastic addition to vegan nachos or elbow macaroni!  Both products deliver on taste and texture. (Daiya also makes a frozen pizza that we haven’t tried yet- we’ll give you a review of that later!)

    It is obvious you aren’t eating dairy cheese when you indulge in the vegan alternatives.  But for TRMom, that’s a-ok.  She hasn’t missed dairy quite as much thanks to these great options.

  4. Digital Coupons

    January 9, 2015 by admin

    IMG_9688We are a couponing family. Growing up with couponing parents, we can’t resist following suit and teaching our kiddos the skills to knock down the prices of their favorite finds.  We haven’t quite mastered the art, so we’re not what you’d call ‘extreme couponers.’  But we’re always researching and growing our resources for maximum cost savings.

    We figure every penny saved adds to our opportunity to go out and have more adventures or allows us to buy more supplies for the next big art project.

    A lot of folks seem to think that couponing takes a ton of time. They can’t be bothered with the gathering, sorting, and scissoring. And forget about remembering to bring those little bits of paper along on a shopping trip.

    Welcome to the digital age! We have some favorite mobile coupon apps that are a snap to use and will save you money 90% of the time.

    Cartwheel for Target:  When this app was first released, TRMom hated it. But now, thanks to Target’s fixes to its shortcomings, it is in constant use. We especially like the feature that allows you to scan products. Once the barcode is read, the app will tell you whether or not a cartwheel savings exists!IMG_9687

    Tip1: Target will price match to Cartwheel (and other store circulars) for any purchases made within 7 days as long as you have your receipt. This was a huge bonus at Christmas when prices were constantly moving.

    Flipp:  You no longer need to go through store circulars. This app gathers all that information for you. Curious about who might have the best price on Beneful dog food? Search in Flipp and find out. Stores like Walmart will price match to competitors circulars.

    Tip2: Check the price matching policy of each and every store prior to shopping. Walmart has an incredibly lenient price match policy but Target is rather strict.

    There is really no excuse to pay full price for a ton of items. Download some mobile apps today and start saving!

  5. Costco

    July 18, 2014 by admin

    We recently rejoined Costco after letting our membership slip for a few years.  We are glad to be back.IMG_6756

    Costco offers two things we are always looking for in a store: good pricing and a fun experience.

    We love going to Costco. There are lots of things beyond food to check out, and usually an assortment free samples to snack on. Whenever there is food involved, our kiddoes are up for whatever you have to offer. So we never hear a complaint about going to Costco.

    Tip: Give the store a half hour or so after opening to get their sample stations set up. If you arrive right when the doors open, you won’t get any free snacks.

    Now, on pricing, it can get a bit tricky. You’ll need to keep your head and do the math to make sure you are getting a good value. $9.50 for two pounds of good quality, whole bean coffee? That’s way better than the typical supermarket price. $14 for two liters of Olive Oil? Well, we can buy 1 Liter for $5.50 at our local supermarket, so we’ll pass. If you check your prices carefully, you’ll end up saving a ton at Costco.

    Tip 2: There is an annual membership fee (about $65), so make sure you will go shopping often enough to get your value out before you decide to sign up.

    Examples of things we buy frequently at Costco at a good price: nuts, crackers, soups, coffee, cheese, and frozen veggies.

    Remember that you will need to be able to store all the food you purchase at your house.  And you’ll need to eat it before it goes bad. Don’t get caught up in bulk shopping if you can’t manage the storage and consumption issues. We are tempted by, but avoid, huge sacks of flour and rice that seem like a good value, but would surely go to waste before we could use it all up. Likewise, until we get a bigger freezer, we can’t take advantage of too many bulk frozen food deals.

    But if you watch the pricing, and buy what you will eat, Costco is a great place to add to your repertoire of shopping places.

  6. What’s In Your Taco?

    May 2, 2014 by admin

    canstock2446701Although we are sure many people their own definition of what goes in a taco, we don’t hold by any one recipe. The beauty of keeping taco shells (Soft or hard? Corn or flour? Take your pick!) around is that once you have them in your house, you can do whatever you want with them.

    For the big picture, we enjoy three main ways to assemble a taco based meal-

    Classic Taco: The shell is folded in the middle, and some sort of filling is stuffed into the u-shaped pocket.

    Quesadilla: Tacos are laid flat and cooked. This is especially popular with ingredients that melt together.

    Tostada: Hard flat taco shells are loaded with ingredients, creating a sort of hand-held pizza effect.

    For ingredients, the sky is the limit! Break out your creativity and warp and blend reality to create your own delicious foods.

    Some ideas:

    Beans: You can’t go wrong with beans of some sort. Whether refried, or not, beans go well in the taco medium. Black, pinto, and kidney are classics of Mexican cookery, but feel free to mix it up with a curry chick pea taco, or spicy African lentils.

    Spreads and Dips: Spreads and dips will help glue everything together. If your tacos tend to end up on the plate, consider adding something for your other ingredients to hang onto. Leftover artichoke dip? Sounds great for the base of a Greek taco.   Or hummus, lettuce and roasted red peppers will make a satisfying light taco snack.

    Kiddoes: Kids love most hand foods, but they might not like all the classic parts of a Mexican taco. So introduce them to the concept by making them a peanut butter and jelly quesadilla. Or use marinara and mozzarella to make a pizza taco! Some kids like it simple, so maybe a plain cheese quesadilla is what will help them feel comfortable on taco night.

    BLT Taco: Vegan Bacon, with fresh lettuce and tomatoes. A little mayo or ranch if you like, and there you have it.

    Breakfast:  Eggs (or tofu) and cheese can easily be slipped into a taco or quesadilla.  Add some tomatoes, salsa or avocado and you’ve got a great start to your day.

    Whatever you have on hand can probably be put into a taco shell! Break out of your old habits and try something new!

  7. The Cheeseman

    March 16, 2014 by admin

    Bluey goes on a lot of missions for the family.  It’s how he is learning how the world works, and it’s the way he spends a lot of his time.  One mission that never fails to excite him is going grocery shopping.

    Many kids despise going to the grocery store, but Bluey is into it.  We think he loves it because he gets to meet up with his friend, The Cheeseman.

    One of our regular stops for the week is our Thursday trip to Woodman’s Supermarket.  It’s a big store and takes a while to get all the way through, but Bluey doesn’t mind.  He knows one of the early stops will be with Frank, the Cheeseman.

    The Cheeseman offers samples of cheeses each Thursday morning, and he keeps a stash of crackers handy for our Bluey.  Frank quickly realized that Bluey just didn’t enjoy plain cheese as heartily as when it was accompanied with a cracker.  So Frank made a point of keeping a supply of crackers hidden away for our boy, regardless of the cheese out for sampling on any given Thursday.

    The Cheeseman lights up at the sight of our Bluey running through the store to meet him.  Bluey is all smiles while chatting with his friend and munching on crackers.

    These little interactions add up to a rich experience for our Bluey.  He has friends all over town that he looks forward to seeing.  By helping him create these friendships, we help make each adventure one which Bluey is excited about.  And hopefully, our Bluey also adds joy to the days of all of his friends.


  8. Fruity

    February 12, 2014 by admin

    IMG_1484It can be hard to afford or find decent fresh fruit in the winter.  What to do?  Our kids devour fruit, so not having it in the house for a stretch of time is just not an option.  And though we stock up on dried fruit, it just doesn’t have the same appeal as biting into cold, juicy fruit.

    And then we discovered frozen fruit!  Our kids’ favorites, thus far, are blueberries and strawberries.  Bluey and Plum will dump a serving into a cup and snack on the frozen pieces with delight.  The price isn’t bad (check for Target coupons) and there is always supply and variety available, regardless of the season.

    Tip: You can easily find organic frozen fruit.

    You can also incorporate frozen fruit into recipes for baked goods and smoothies.  Our all time favorite is to use it to create a syrupy topping for our weekend pancakes.  Dump two cups of frozen fruit into a saucepan with about 1 cup of water and ¼ cup sugar (some fruits, like Raspberries, are a bit more tart- you might need more sugar, so adjust to your taste).  Simmer on low heat, occasionally adding more water depending on your desired consistency.  Yummy!

    Check out frozen fruit as an option to supplement your fresh fruit grocery shopping and forget about the bpa lined can!

  9. The Incredible Bulk

    November 21, 2013 by admin

    bulk-food-314Bulk buying seems like such a good idea, you might think thrifty folk like ourselves shop this way regularly.  But we don’t do it.  Why not? Well, for two main reasons.  Firstly, buying in bulk is only of use if you have the capacity to correctly store items for the long term.  Secondly, bulk prices don’t always beat the smaller quantities in the per unit price.

    We don’t recommend bulk purchases for most perishable items.  Many foods are susceptible to a variety of calamities from mold, to vermin, to going stale.  If you aren’t armed with the correct storage solutions for all your foods, you’ll end up tossing bulk items before you get to eat them.

    Our fruits and vegetables are purchased either fresh or frozen.  We typically buy only enough for a short period of time.  We like to keep our grains, nuts and beans in the kitchen, so we can be aware of what’s on hand.  Therefore, we purchase what will fit in our storage jars that we can easily stash in the cabinets.

    We only buy food in bulk when we are certain that we’ll use the items up in a few weeks.  For instance, we’ll buy bigger bags of flour and sugar around the holidays as we have a good idea about how many cookies we’ll make over a span of five or six weeks.

    We have discovered that the safest bet for bulk purchasing is non-food items. Cleaning supplies don’t expire; so feel free to fill a closet with them!

  10. Jenifer Street Market

    October 12, 2013 by admin

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne day, we felt cooped up in the house and decided we needed to get outside.  We wanted to go somewhere but we were a little cash poor that day—so what to do?

    IMG_0708We headed for a locally owned market about a mile from our house- Jenifer Street Market (Jeny St Market).  Its distance meant that we could walk or bike to get there.  Since this is a small market, we were confident that we could find something to buy for the bit of change dedicated to this expedition.

    Walking and biking the streets of your own neighborhood allows for many opportunities to meet people, to notice buildings, trees and businesses you might not have seen before—to just BE a part of your neighborhood.

    Jeny St Market is a friendly place.  After our initial jaunt became a recurring event, the workers began to recognize our little family when we’d visit.  They started to notice our purchasing habits, and to remember stories that they’d heard from us at previous meetings.  We became ‘regulars.’

    Our trips to Jeny St Market continue to this day, all year round (weather permitting).  We love it as a quick destination, where we know we’ll see people we enjoy, and we get a little treat that we like.  On the way, we’ll make new friends and discover new secret spaces.  And become even more connected to our neighbors.